How a Transition Profile Helps Students Prepare for Life in the Community

Article excerpt

Secondary teachers, transition specialists, and related personnel who teach students with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 22 spend considerable time placing students in various school and community sites to expose students to employment opportunities and to teach functional skills (Moon & Inge, 2000). These educators are in an unusual position to observe and document students'

Interests and preferences.

Need for behavioral supports.

Skills in integrated school and community settings.

Amount of support needed to work successfully.

Accommodations needed on the job and in the community.

Level of self-determination.

This assessment data should form the basis of transition planning and the core of each student's individualized education program (IEP).

Unfortunately, for many students with disabilities, much of the information collected in community-based work settings and through other secondary assessment activities does not become formalized in the student's file or is not used in a systematic manner to plan transition goals and coordinated activities (Sitlington & Neubert, 1998). Even more troublesome, this important information often does not follow the student as he or she transitions from school to an adult service provider, to an employer, or to support personnel at postsecondary education institutions. Students, their families, and adult service providers would benefit greatly from this information if it were packaged in a way that was easy to record and understand.

This article presents an instrument, the Transition Profile, which secondary educators and rehabilitation professionals have designed and field-tested. The Transition Profile is one method of summarizing pertinent information collected during the secondary years and may be useful in the process of determining eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services (for information about legislation regarding transition services, see boxes, "Special Education Legislation" and "Rehabilitation Legislation"). We have found that updating a form such as the Transition Profile annually can help students, families, and educators organize and track this information.

Development of the Transition Profile

We developed the Transition Profile using a three-step process. First, the developers of the profile (Neubert, Moon, Leconte, & Lowman, 1998) worked with six transition specialists and rehabilitation counselors who served transition-age students in Maryland public school systems. We developed the content for the Transition Profile, along with a format that was thorough enough for rehabilitation counselors but easy for secondary educators to complete. The goal of this step was to include, in a concise format, all pertinent information that typically gets lost in the transfer of records or the communication between stakeholders.

The second step included asking representatives from special education and rehabilitation services at the State Department of Education to review the Transition Profile to ensure that the content and format were usable in systems across the state. This group, all involved in transition policy and practice at the state level, refined the instrument to include statewide policy requirements on transition.

The final step involved having 15 transition specialists and secondary educators who supported students with disabilities during their final school years field-test the Transition Profile. These professionals provided feedback for the final version of the Transition Profile.

Content and Uses of the Transition Profile

The 17 short sections of the Transition Profile range from general student information to work history, which includes specific information on each type of job or volunteer experience. The Transition Profile was originally conceived as a convenient way for educators, students, and families to keep track of secondary educational and vocational experiences in a form that could be accurately and concisely transferred to adult service providers, such as vocational rehabilitation counselors. …